Published: Tue, May 29, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Top NK official heads to USA as summit negotiations continue

Top NK official heads to USA as summit negotiations continue

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's dispatch of a top lieutenant to the United States suggests that preparations for a summit between him and President Donald Trump are in the final stages. Its demands could include a reduced United States military role in South Korea or an end to the American nuclear "umbrella" over South Korea and Japan.

Planning for the historic summit, initially scheduled for June 12, appears to be moving ahead after the United States president called it off last week.

Moon could travel to Singapore for a three-way summit with Kim and Trump next month, Yonhap reported yesterday.

USA officials have talked about a comprehensive one-shot deal in which North Korea eliminates its nukes first and receives rewards later. But as TIME reported on Monday, analysts predict that even if the summit ultimately happens, Trump lost significant leverage when he sent that letter.

Roh and his predecessor, Kim Dae-jung, advocated the "sunshine policy" of engaging with North Korea.

On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said U.S. and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom, a village in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that runs along the heavily armed border between North and South Korea.

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The two diplomats have crossed paths several times in the past, especially during the six-party negotiation process.

He sat next to Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is also a White House aide, during February's closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea, an event that was seen as a turning point in the nuclear crisis.

US President Donald Trump later confirmed in a Twitter post that Kim was on his way to NY to discuss the summit, describing Kim's trip as "solid response to my letter".

Kim, a Seoul-born career diplomat fluent in Korean, previously served as the US special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary for Korea and Japan.

The warming ties between the two countries chilled after President George W. Bush took office in January 2001, taking a tough line on the North.

Kim Jong Un's de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son, meanwhile, flew to Singapore via Beijing on Monday night, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

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Kim Yong Chol is one of the vice chairmen of the Workers' Party of Korea, the communist organization through which the ruling family controls North Korea, but is not technically the No. 2 behind Kim Jong Un. Sanders said he would meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY later this week.

It remains to be seen who Mr Kim will meet when he arrives, having greeted U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo when he arrived in North Korea earlier this month.

Another "pre-advance" team is heading to Singapore to meet with North Koreans, the White House said.

Trump announced the meeting with Kim Yong Chol earlier in the day. Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this.

The U.S. has stated it is ready to trade with and invest in North Korea if it achieves complete denuclearization. Moon has insisted he can be persuaded to abandon his nuclear facilities, materials and bombs in a verifiable and irreversible way in exchange for credible security and economic guarantees.

"It's a good thing to have him on board", a former senior South Korean official who has worked with him told Reuters.

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